The nice thing about not sleeping anymore is that it gives me time to dispute English semantics, proofread interminable novels, and drink lots of tea. I’m thinking I might take up this not sleeping as a full time occupation. It’s working out very well for me so far.
So at any rate, I was proofing a website for a friend when the issue of the gender neutral pronoun popped up. I dislike the use of “their” for a singular gender neutral pronoun, because it bothers me. Aesthetically, it angers me, much like bad kerning, deliberate misspellings for cuteness, and babies (except J’s, which will defy all my baby expectations and turn out to totally rock, I know it).
Now look here. I understand that English is an evolving language. In fact, I’ve written before about English, and how it changes, and how that’s a splendid thing. But awkward circumlocutions and perilous constructions are not a goodness.
So that’s why I’d like to talk to you, gentle readers, about bringing back “ou.” For a period all too brief in the rapidly changing English language, “ou” was a gender neutral singular pronoun. (One might argue that “it” serves this purpose, but it is obvious that “it” has become too charged a pronoun to be used in all seriousness in this context. It has come to refer to objects, rather than people.)
I am not a fan of the inherent patriarchy in the English language. There have been some struggles with substituting other words (ze, ve, sie, hir, etc), but these neologisms don’t do it for me. They don’t fit with the existing structure of English, for me, although the ideals behind them are reasonable (and they even have some sound linguistic basis). Ou clicks. Ou works, and I’m going to start using it. So should you. Now, granted, people are going to look at us oddly at first, but perhaps we can start a global firestorm of ou, a la snakes on a plane. Add ou to your vocabulary. Start including it in professional articles, personal writing, and daily speech. Let’s get a real gender neutral pronoun on equal footing, kiddos.
Ou: all the cool kids are doing it.